COAL POWER-BORDER DISPUTE
Judge finds Minnesota energy law unconstitutional
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A federal judge has found that a Minnesota law designed to promote the use of renewable energy is unconstitutional and she barred state officials from enforcing it.
In a 48-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said Friday that the Next Generation Energy Act passed in 2007 effectively blocks North Dakota utilities from exporting electricity into the state.
And she says it improperly requires them to seek approval from Minnesota in order to do business.
It was not immediately clear if Minnesota officials would appeal. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission spokesman Dan Wolf says attorneys are reviewing the opinion.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says the ruling is a vindication, and he's always felt that North Dakota businesses shouldn't have to ask Minnesota regulators for permission to operate.
Minister accused of abuse reported in Spokane-area
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The Washington State Patrol says investigators have acted on 20 or 30 tips this week as they check locations in the Spokane-area in their search for a self-professed minister accused of sexually abusing at least two girls in rural Minnesota.
Lt. Shane Nelson tells The Spokesman-Review they're also contacting known associates of Victor Arden Barnard.
The investigation began in Minnesota but the 52-year-old was last known to be in the Spokane area. He's facing 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct related to two young women who said they were abused for nearly a decade.
In 2000, Barnard set up what he called the "Shepherd's Camp" on land where girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 24 lived as part of his "Maidens Group."
Teacher Fietek launches Minn. House campaign
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A teacher who spoke out for gay students during a bullying debate in the state's largest school district says he's running for a state House seat.
Jefferson Fietek will challenge Rep. Mark Uglem, a Champlin Republican.
Fietek advocated for gay students in 2010 when the Anoka-Hennepin school district struggled with several student suicides and federal lawsuits from students who said they were bullied over real or perceived sexual orientation.
Senate hopeful Ortman reports $375K in Q1
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Julianne Ortman says her campaign raised $375,000 during the first quarter.
Ortman, a state senator from Chanhassen, has raised a total of $610,000, well back of a top rival, Mike McFadden.
The businessman and first-time candidate has raised $2.8 million, with $1.8 million cash on hand by the end of March.
Ortman's campaign did not release her cash on hand.
The two are among several Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Al Franken.
Injured snowy owl is ready for release into wild
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A rare snowy owl that was apparently hit by a bus in the nation's capital and sent to Minnesota for rehabilitation is scheduled to be released into the wild.
The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota plans to release the owl on Saturday along the northern Minnesota and Wisconsin border.
The injured owl was found in downtown Washington in late January and taken to the National Zoo before being transferred to a Washington, D.C., wildlife rehabilitation center. It was then sent to The Raptor Center, which has expertise in replacing damaged feathers.
Snowy owls are native to the Arctic. The Raptor Center clinic manager Lori Arent says the owl may stay in the area for a few days, but its migratory urge will encourage it to move north.
Some nurseries offer plants that are safe for bees
MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) - As gardeners begin shopping for plants this spring, they may see some marked as safe for bees.
Some nurseries are offering plants that are free of an insecticide that experts have partly blamed for a die-off of bee populations in recent years.
Minnesota Public Radio News reports Bachman's is now growing plants at its Lakeville center that are free of the neonicotinoid insecticide. While the insecticide is probably not the only cause of bee deaths, Bachman's chief executive Dale Bachman calls it a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, a national trade group called AmericanHort is supporting more research on the issue.
University of Minnesota entomology professor Marla Spivak says she hopes the Minnesota Legislature will pass a bill requiring that plants be labeled so consumers know which insecticide is used.
CASH RETURN SOUGHT
2 Minnesotans want Iowa City police to return cash
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Two Minnesota residents want the Iowa City Police Department to return their money.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen says Tiffani Barber and Kearnice Overton, of St. Paul, Minn., last week filed an application in Johnson County District Court. They said officers wrongfully seized $48,000 during a traffic stop March 16.
Civil forfeiture laws permit officers to seize money and property of people suspected of crimes.
Overton says in court documents that Barber gave him the money to buy property from Overton's cousin in Rock Island, Ill. Overton says the money was not connected to criminal activity.
Overton was cited for driving without a valid license but says in court documents that he did have a valid license.
Prince reaches agreement with music label
NEW YORK (AP) - Prince now owns the rights to the music he recorded on Warner Bros. Records after years of disputes and battles with the record label.
Warner Bros. announced Friday that it had reached an agreement with the pop icon. Prince was signed to the label from 1978 to the mid-1990s, releasing key projects like "Purple Rain," ''1999" and "Around the World in a Day."
Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Warner Bros. also said the 55-year-old singer would release "previously unheard material" from his tenure on the label. A 30th-anniversary edition of "Purple Rain" will be released this summer.
Prince said in a statement that he's "pleased with the results of the negotiations." He added that he's working on new music apart from Warner Bros.
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